In its heyday, all news radio enjoyed great audience ratings in the morning hours ... "morning drive" as it's known in the business. Advertising revenue for that part of the day was immense. But the evening hours were quite another matter. Listeners by the tens of thousands weren't tuned to the radio. They were glued to the TV set.
KFWB and our news stations in other cities searched for a way to enhance the size of the evening audience. One way to accomplish that goal would be to find a news-related show to keep listeners tuned in longer. Before I left KFWB for San Francisco and even while I was at KPIX-TV, an idea was starting to take shape. A simple idea, really. Rather than doing regular newscasts in the evening, why not do a mixture of newscasts and a news interview show? I flew down to Los Angeles once to help shape the idea into a proposal that our New York executives could consider.
The show would be called "the KFWB News Line". It would run from 7 pm to midnight. There would be two 5 minute news summaries, and a sports segment each hour. The rest of the time involved a newsman interviewing people about subjects in the news. The guests were frequently interviewed by telephone but sometimes, they might come to the studio in person.
New York liked the concept and felt it was worth a try. One hurdle proved a hard one to clear ... finding the right interviewer. "The News Line" debuted early in 1973. But, one after another, KFWB's talent tried and failed to handle the demanding question-and-answer part of the show. Finally, I made an offer to KFWB. Since the KPIX traffic department was basically running itself and no longer needed me, why not let me try the interview job?
At first, there was concern that, because I had been on the air during the KFWB strike less than two years before, it might foment trouble among the union members to have me back on the air. My counter-argument was this: I was still a member of the union in good standing ... I had earned the grudging respect of the strikers who had no idea how good an airman I was ... and I understood the concept of the show better than anyone since I helped design it in the first place. My final challenge to Art Schreiber and his New York superiors was this: "Let me try it. If I fail, you won't have to fire me --- I'll quit." That did it. I started the show March 13, 1973.
There's a footnote to the union part of the story. A year or so later, my co-workers wanted me to become their Union Shop Steward and I held that job at KFWB for almost ten years.